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Press review Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Should gender be a factor in cabinet elections?


How the loss of banking secrecy has hurt Swiss banks, Neo-Nazis and jihadists in the Swiss army, and the role of language and gender when picking cabinet ministers are all making headlines in Switzerland this Sunday. 

Banking secrecy 

Swiss banks have always maintained that since the collapse of banking secrecy Switzerland hasn’t lost its global market share of asset management. Not true, according to a study in the SonntagsZeitungexternal link

The Swiss share of the offshore business pie – management of foreigners’ assets – has shrunk significantly in recent years. Security holdings of foreign private clients in Swiss banks have halved in ten years to CHF503 billion ($525 billion), says Gabriel Zucman from the University of California, Berkeley, and the study’s co-author. 

Meanwhile, offshore business in Hong Kong increased sixfold over the same period. In addition, Hong Kong and Singapore combined have now overtaken Switzerland, according to the study. 

Army extremists 

The cases of extremists in the Swiss army are far more serious than the army lets the public believe, according to the SonntagsBlickexternal link

Using the freedom of information law, the paper quoted from an email correspondence between the specialist unit for extremism in the army and the army’s top management. This revealed that in several cases it was only luck that had prevented far-right extremists and jihadists from being trained how to use weapons. 

In one case the army called up a man to recruit school – despite the authorities knowing he had travelled abroad as a jihadist, “presumably to Syria”. The army intervened at the last minute following a tip-off from a cantonal source, according to the paper. 

The army did not want to comment on this or other cases, for example the far-right extremist “who showed a keen interest in learning about explosives”. The man belonged to an armed gang with convicted criminals as members. The army looked into the case, but the outcome is unknown. 

The majority of the other cases concerning convicted violent criminals involved far-right extremists, hooligans and militant football supporters. 

Cabinet quotas 

More than half of Swiss don’t care which part of Switzerland new cabinet ministers come from or whether they are male or female. 

Ahead of the election on Wednesday of a replacement for Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, a survey of almost 12,000 people published in the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche found that 51% of respondents said a person’s origin and gender was not important when filling a seat in the seven-person cabinet. 

That said, 32% believed the new person should come from Italian-speaking Switzerland (not represented in cabinet since 1999) and 15% said the new minister should be a woman (currently only two of the seven ministers are female). 

Of the three official candidates, Italian-speaker Ignazio Cassis remains the favourite (41% of respondents said he should be the new minister), Pierre Maudet from Geneva got 24% of the vote and Isabelle Moret from canton Vaud 13%. The rest didn’t know whom parliament should choose on Wednesday.

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